Animal cruelty or local culture? Bullfighting ban divides France

© AFP - PASCAL GUYOT

As France's parliament prepares to debate banning bullfighting outright, its defenders and opponents are equally passionate in their arguments for and against the practice.

Bullfighting is already outlawed in most of France. Article 521-1 of the penal code punishes animal cruelty and abuse with a three-year prison term and €45,000 fine.

But ten departments in the south and south-west benefit from an exception on the basis that bullfighting is an "uninterrupted local tradition".

An estimated 160 to 200 bullfights, known as corridas, are held in those areas each year, with around 1,000 bulls killed in the ring.

Aymeric Caron, an MP with the hard-left France Unbowed party who was elected on his campaign promise to try to end bullfighting, has tabled a bill to remove the exemption, allowing for a countrywide ban.

While a special parliamentary committee last week rejected a ban, on Thursday MPs will debate and vote on bullfighting for the first time ever.

Caron and other opponents say it’s a barbaric and immoral practice which has no place in a modern society concerned about animal welfare.

They appear to have public support, with a recent survey showing around 75 percent in favour of a ban on bullfighting.

'A show based on animal suffering'


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